17.11.2023 Konzertfabrik Z7 Pratteln, Switzerland
The Darkness – «Permission To Land 20th Anniversary Tour»
20 years ago…. how could it be so long ago… when this video flickered on Viva TV “I Believe in a Thing called Love….” with these wonderfully weird, high-pitched vocals. A song that was fun to listen to and made you either hate the band The Darkness or, like me, simply want to hear more of them. “Permission to Land” was playing up and down at home and my poor parents had to put up with me trying to sing exactly like Justin Hawkins. Well, this evening they are celebrating their anniversary at Z7 and we are curious to see if it still goes down as well as it did 20 years ago.
The evening opens with an act that doesn’t really fit in musically. Désiree Mishoe, also known as May the Muse, has already performed at the Stimmenfestival and is a multicultural singer. Very calm and contemplative with only two guitars, one played by Désiree herself and the other by Softy, who is actually a technician, roadie and secondary guitarist for The Darkness. The music is very nice and calm, but just doesn’t fit as opening act here. I understand that Justin Hawkins wants to give his partner a chance to perform – and that’s not a bad thing – but Sinplus could have been added as a second support act, just like in Italy and France. For me, the mood of Mishoe’s songs is more “time to go to sleep” than “time to rock”, even though she clearly has her fans in the audience. I give her credit for simply standing in front of a metal/rock audience with two acoustic guitars and performing such calm songs. That takes courage as it could have turned out differently. A very good musician without question, but for me the wrong genre.
Anyway, it’s now time for The Darkness and “Permission to Land…..” and the gentlemen in their outlandish outfits delivering a crazy show: Justin & Dan Hawkins, Frankie Poullain and Rufus Taylor are in top form and give everything on stage from the very first note. After the second song, Justin is talking about Switzerland’s reputation for the worst audience ever, which of course doesn’t go down too well and everybody wants to prove to him that this isn’t the case… Well, how about an opening act that creates a good atmosphere… that wasn’t the case last time…. it could only get better, right? But let’s leave it at that! 😊
No song on the record is missing, from “Black Shuck”, “Get the Hands off my Woman” & “Love is only a feeling”, everything is included. Justin then proudly announces that he has been sober and clean for 17 years now and talks about his wonderful daughter. That’s certainly something to be proud of, if you’ve managed to get off the stuff. You don’t have to be an addict to realize what an impact even a small amount of alcohol consumption can have and how much better you feel when you give it up completely. But in the end, people have to decide for themselves, as long as they don’t harm anyone other than themselves.
The atmosphere is getting better from song to song and so the gentlemen manage to get the crowd into cheering and singing along. Hawkins interacts well with the audience and makes a few jokes – he has not lost his typical British humor despite living in Switzerland. It’s a shame that “I Belive in a Thing Called Love” is played towards the end, but not as the final song.
For two encores, the guys return to the stage dressed in bath robes and then swap places for one song: Dan on the drum kit, Rufus on bass and Frankie with Softy on guitar.
Softy then gets another turn for the last song, because he has the important job of carrying Justin on his shoulders across the hall. Poor guy, but he does it quite well. Conclusion of this anniversary concert: a ton of guitar picks were shot, some are probably still stuck in the eyes of audience members today, Justin Hawkins is the far-spit-and-catch-again-world-champion and we would like to see The Darkness live on stage much more often (but next time with SINPLUS, please)!